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Full text of "Out of the fold : A word to some who stand aloof from the visible church"






OUT OF THE FOLD 



A WORD 



SOME WHO STAND ALOOF 



VISIBLE CHURCH. 



"7 speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say."— Paul. 



T.ORONTO: 

PRINTED AT THE WESLE1TAN PRINTING ESTABLISHMENT. 

1871. 






h 



BY THE AUTHOR OF THIS TRACT. 

A Plea for Total Abstinence 5 cents. 

Erring through Wine 5 " 

In Preparation : 
Counsels to Young Converts : An Abridgement of the] " Con- 
verts Counsellor," by Rev. Daniel Wise. 



For Sale at the Wesleyan Booh Room. 



OUT OF THE FOLD. 



In almost every congregation there is a class of men 
whose attitude towards the Church and religion causes 
deep anxiety to every true Christian. I do not mean 
the openly vicious and profane, but a class whose in- 
tegrity is unimpeachable, and in whose moral deport- 
ment there is little to blame ; a class who engage in 
works of benevolence ; who give money for the spread 
of religion and the relief of the poor; who are in- 
terested, more or less, in religious work, yet, strange to 
say, are not themselves religious. They understand 
and approve of religion in the abstract, but its saving 
power they have never felt. 

When we look at such men we think of the Saviour's 
words to the Scribe, — " Thou art not far from the king- 
dom of God ;" and the wish springs up in the heart, — 
" Oh that these men who gather around the pale of the 
Christian Church were decidedly within it, and that 
not merely by a formal profession, but in the experi- 
ence of a true conversion to Christ !" Header ! if you 
are one of the class referred to, I pray you to ponder 
what follows : — 



4 OUT OF THE FOLD. 

I. In order to Salvation, your present attitude 
towards God and Religion must be changed in 

SOME WAY. 

1. Your present position is unsatisfactory. . It must 
be unsatisfactory to yourself. You feel that you are 
not in a right relation either to God or His Church. 
You feel that you ought to be a decided Christian, and 
that the full weight of your talents and influence 
should be thrown into the scale on the side of religion. 
Doubtless you could assign many reasons why you 
have not taken this decisive step ; but are these 
reasons satisfactory ? I trow not. They do not satisfy 
your own conscience, much less will they satisfy God 
in the great day. 

1. Your present position is unsafe, — yea dangerous. 
I assume that you are not one of the openly ungodly ; 
but your attitude tells that you have not yet closed 
with God's offer of salvation. You are not trying to 
make your calling and election sure, but you are leaving 
everything that pertains to the eternal future in a con- 
dition of awful uncertainty, and are thus running the 
risk of being counted an enemy of Christ. " He that 
is not with me," said Jesus, " is against me, and he that 
gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." 

3. Your present position is opposed to the mind and 
xoill of Christ. — To give of your substance for the pro- 
pagation of the Gospel, is well ; but you cannot serve 
God by proxy. " Go„ work to-day in my vineyard," is 
a command addressed to you. Christ demands open 
profession and willing service. " If any man will come 
after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross 



OUT OF THE FOLD. 5 

daily, and follow me." " Whosoever, therefore, shall 
be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous 
and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man 
be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his 
Father with the holy angels." 

4. Your present position is unjustifiable. It may not 
be one of open hostility to Christ, but neither is it one 
of real friendship. You are trying — it may be all un- 
consciously — to occupy neutral ground. This you can- 
not do without guilt. In time of peace it is not neces- 
sary that a man should continually proclaim his de- 
votion to his country ; but in time of war, when his 
country is invaded, neutrality is disloyalty. Such is, 
substantially, your position. The Christian army is in 
the field, but you refuse to aid. You keep aloof from 
God's people, and turn your back upon the Lord's table 
as though you were a Turk or a Heathen. Can you 
justify this ? " Curse ye Meroz !" Why ? — what had 
they done ? Had they taken up arms against Jehovah ? 
No ! Had they gone over to the enemy, and fought 
against the chosen people ? No ! What, then, had they 
done ? Nothing ! Their neutrality was their crime. 
" Because they came not up to the help of the Lord, to 
the help of the Lord against the mighty." 

If you are now convinced that some change is neces- 
sary, let us proceed a step farther : — 

II. No Change will avail that does not lead in 
the direction of the church of god, and of 
vital Religion. 

Do not misunderstand me : I do not use the term 
" Church of God " in a narrow or sectarian sense. I 



6 OUT OF THE FOLD. 

mean simply that it is the bounden duty of every man 
to give his heart to Christ, and to unite with fc some 
branch of His visible Church. In other words, the duty 
of union and fellowship with those who love the Lord 
Jesus Christ is imperative. Let me illustrate the ne- 
cessity of a change in the direction I have indicated : — 

1. A change towards Infidelity will not do. That 
would be, in your case, a change from comparative in- 
difference to open enmity, and would make your 
position worse instead of better. You cannot rid your- 
self of guilt by denying its existence, and whether you 
believe it or not, the great fact of accountability to God 
still remains. The only hope the Infidel can have of 
escaping endless misery is the hope that the Bible may 
not be true. Now if the Bible be not true, still the 
Infidel is no better off than the Christian ; but if the 
Bible be true, — what then ? 

2. A change towards Universalis™ will not do. That 
would be closing your eyes against danger instead of 
trying to shun it. Many a man has sought to escape 
from the stings of a guilty conscience by trying to 
believe that God is too merciful to punish any man 
forever ; but it may be well to remember that a man's 
belief or disbelief cannot alter one of God's facts, and, 
let Universalists say as they will, tf/mjtruth stands firm 
— " The wicked shall be turned into hell, with all the 
nations that forget God." 

3. A Solitary Religion* apart from all Church con- 
nection, will not do. I do not say that a man cannot be 
a Christian apart from membership in the visible 
Church, but it is, to say the least, exceedingly impro- 



OUT OF THE FOLD. 7 

bable that he ever will. At L best he will be a very 
defective Christian. His religion will be eminently 
seltish, and selfishness is opposed to the religion of 
Jesus. Some of the graces of the Spirit he may have, 
but like plants in the dark they will droop and fade for 
want of light and air. Believe me, your intention of 
being a secret disciple, though well meant, is but a 
snare of the devil to delude your soul. 

What, then, is the conclusion of the whole matter ? 
It is j that, j£n the matter of duty, nothing short of a 
sincere, open' profession of religion, and union with the 
Church of Christ, will satisfy either God or your own 
conscience. But such a profession involves much. 
Let it be understood, therefore, that 

III. This Change must be one op both Heart and 
Life. 

And this involves, on your part, 

1. A cluivye of purpose. Your purposes in regard to 
religion have been indefinite or vacillating ; henceforth 
let them be definite and decided. You are now drift- 
ing along with a vague idea that at some time — you 
hardly know when, and in some way — you hardly 
know how, you will become a Christian. You have 
purposed to give your heart to God at a " more con- 
venient season," but the purpose has never ripened into 
execution. Be not deceived. Salvation and heaven 
are not won by halting between two opinions. " The 
kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent 
take it by force." 



8 OUT OF THE FOLD. 

2. A change of conduct. And this is two-fold : — 
(1) Breaking off all sinful practices, according to God's 
commandment — " Cease to do evil ;" and again — " Let 
the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man 
his thoughts, and let him turn unto the Lord and He 
will have mercy upon him." There be those who decry 
all this as if it were seeking salvation by works, and 
they ask — " Suppose a man forsake his sins, will that 
save him ?" I answer " No ; but not forsaking his sins 
will damn him." Christ came to save his people from 
their sins, not in them ; and, be assured, he will not 
save that man who will not forsake his sins. (2) En- 
gaging earnestly in all known duties, — such as reading 
the Scriptures, praying to God, keeping holy the Sab- 
bath, going to the House of God, relieving the poor, etc. 
Here the question arises, — Is it right for an uncon- 
verted man to do these things ? I ask in return, — Is 
it right for him not to do them ? These are duties which 
God requires of all men. In the day of Judgment 
sinners will be condemned for not doing them. (See 
Matt. 25 : 41-6). But suppose a man does all these 
things, is he, therefore, saved ? If by " saved " you mean 
pardoned and justified, 1 say No ; these things are not 
the end, but they are means to an end, and that end is 
— salvation. He who finds Jesus finds salvation ; but 
he who would find must first seek. And where is he to 
seek if not in the Scriptures and the means of grace, 
and how is he to seek if not by forsaking his sins and 
crying to God ? Be assured that while Christian duties 
do not in themselves save a man, the neglect of them 



OUT OF THE FOLD. 9 

involves him in condemnation. " These ought ye 
to have done, and not to leave the other undone." 

3. A change of relation. Your relations have hitherto 
been with the world ; let them now be with the people 
of God. There is much practical wisdom in the old 
adage — " A man is known by the company he keeps." 
If your friendships are all with the world and with 
worldly people, the broadest charity can hardly hope 
that you are a Christian. And may not these worldly 
associations and friendships have been one great ob- 
stacle in the way of your becoming a decided Christian ? 
Do you say Christians are no better than others ? 
Perhaps if you knew Christians better you would re- 
spect and love them more ; and the " inconsistencies " 
of which you complain would vanish when, in your 
heart, " brotherly love " had taken the place of cold 
suspicion. If the Church is not all it should be, come 
and help to make it better ; and let your union with the 
Church of Christ be the evidence of your changed pur- 
poses in regard to religion. 

4. A change of heart. Hitherto I have been looking 
at the subject from one point of view — that of human 
responsibility and duty. Do not think, however, that 
I have either forgotten or ignored the important truth 
— " By grace are ye saved ; through faith and that not 
of yourselves : it is the gift of God." I well understand 
that God alone can change the heart and make it new ; 
but believing that salvation is a blessing to be sought, I 
have tried to indicate a course that I think will be help- 
ful to seekers, especially the class that all along I have 
had in view. Ponder well, I beseech you, the Saviour's 



10 OUT OF THE FOLD. 

words — "Except a man be born again he cannot see 
the Kingdom of God ;" and then consider whether yon 
are more likely to secure that priceless boon by con- 
tinning in your present attitude, than by taking the 
course I have indicated. 

Permit me now to point out, very briefly, 

IV. Some of the Advantages which a change in 

THE RIGHT DIRECTION WILL SECURE. 

1. You will secure peace of soul. I mean that peace 
which comes when a man feels that lie is no longer at 
war with his Maker ; when he feels that the strife is 
over, and that he has fallen in with the plans and pur- 
poses of God. In a word, I mean that peace which 
results from a consciousness of doing right. There is a 
still deeper peace — a " peace which passeth under- 
standing " — which is God's gift to him that believes in 
Jesus ; and this peace, too, shall be yours if you " follow 
on to know the Lord." 

2. You will secure thorough identification with God's 
cause — no small advantage in a state of thing where 
neutrality is sin. Once fully identified with the cause 
of God you will no longer be halting " between two 
opinions." You will no longer run the risk of being 
suspected for a secret enemy, or, at least, a half-hearted 
friend. Your influence and example will all be on the 
side of right, and by just so much will the cause of sin 
and wrong be weakened. 

3. You will secure Christian fellowship and sympathy. 
I confess I have no faith in a solitary Christianity. 
Such an one may have fewer temptations to evil, but, 



OUT OF THE FOLD. 11 

again, he has fewer incentives to good. The words of 
the Preacher apply forcibly here : — " Two are better 
than one ; because they have a good reward for their 
labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow : 
but woe to him that is alone when he falleth ; for he 

hath not another to help him up And if 

one prevail against him, two shall withstand him ; and 
a three-fold cord is not quickly broken." 

4. You secure free access to the means of grace — and to 
him who uses them aright they are very helpful and 
very precious. In the estimation of some they may be 
of small account ; but he who despises the means of 
grace, despises Him who ordained them. He who loves 
not to assemble with God's people for prayer and praise, 
may find himself at last excluded from the goodly fellow- 
ship of the redeemed in glory ; and he who carelessly 
turns his back upon the Lord's Table here, may find no 
place at the " marriage supper of the Lamb " above. 

" And what shall I more say ?" I will say in all sin- 
cerity and affection — "Come thou with us and we will do 
thee good !" Stay no longer in the " far country," but 
hasten with earnest heart to Him who waits to give you 
a Father's welcome. Tarry no longer among the aliens, 
but claim, through Christ, power to become a son of 
God. Halt no longer between two opinions, but now 
" come out from " the world and " be separate." I trust 
you are already convinced you ought to be a Christian : 
may that conviction soon deepen into the resolve, — " By 
God's grace I will be a Christian." 



TORONTO : 

PRINTED AT TUB WE8LEYAN PRINTIN8 ESTABLISHMENT, 
KINO STREET EAST.